An Essay on Social Contract Theory

3167 words 13 pages
SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY

Social contract theory (or contractarianism) is a concept used in philosophy, political science and sociology to denote an implicit agreement within a state regarding the rights and responsibilities of the state and its citizens, or more generally a similar concord between a group and its members, or between individuals. All members within a society are assumed to agree to the terms of the social contract by their choice to stay within the society without violating the contract; such violation would signify a problematic attempt to return to the state of nature. It has been often noted, indeed, that social contract theories relied on a specific anthropological conception of man as either "good" or "evil". Thomas
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Hobbes named the state Leviathan, thus pointing to the artifice involved in the social contract. Other philosophies conceived by Hobbes is that man were innately born with no morals or understanding of good. When observing the Bible, one can find that the name of Satan's serpent is Leviathan, thus the naming of his book. His ideas were greatly criticized due to their morbidity and anti-Christian ideals.

John Locke's Two Treatises of Government (1689)

John Locke's Two Treatises of Government differs from Hobbes' conception of an absolute monarchy by arguing in favor of a right of rebellion against tyranny, believing that people contracted with one another for a particular kind of government, and that they could modify or even abolish the government. For this reason, he is considered to be one of the main thinkers of liberalism. Locke's social contract theory was intertwined with his understanding of an innate, essential human rationality constituting 'natural law', explained in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. John Locke is often compared to his contemporary, Thomas Hobbes, and their main differences stands

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